Keep Calm and Calgary On

Posted by on Jul 5, 2013 in News | 0 comments

998188_10152951915015508_1828436752_nOn June 20th, 2013 Calgary experienced one of the worst floods in our country’s history. Flood waters overwhelmed Calgary’s Bow and Elbow rivers in the low lying neighborhoods near the rivers including the downtown core and Stampede Park. Nearly 100,000 people were evacuated as we watched homes being destroyed, bridges washing out, cars floating down the river and lives being changed forever . The animals at the zoo needed to be moved to higher ground and the hippos nearly escaped down the river. Just when we thought the worst was over, five railway cars filled with petroleum collapsed  a damaged railway bridge and almost ended up in the river. In the days to follow Calgary experienced an extreme heat wave with temperatures exceeding 33 degrees, adding the potential for dehydration and heat stroke to the already dangerous conditions for people working in the clean up.

The spirit of Calgarians through this state of emergency was nothing short of awe-inspiring. People of all ages rallied to help in any way they could. Mayor Naheed Nenshi put out a request for 500 volunteers and 2500 people responded. Later another 12,000 signed on. Emergency shelters were set up, but barely used because of the generosity of the Calgarians who opened up their homes and hearts to those affected.

Mayor Nenshi was a tireless pillar of strength for his city. He proved himself to be a true leader, not a politician. He inspired and motivated Calgarians to take action as he communicated with his trademark gentleness, clarity, power and precision.  Most impressive of all is that he was authentic and fully present as he worked tirelessly along side the emergency personnel, first responders and dedicated workers to get Calgary back up and running.

The Greatest Show on Earth  which was scheduled to open in two weeks was in jeopardy because of massive flooding on the site. In it’s 101 year old history the Calgary Stampede  has never had to be canceled.

stampede-tshirtSuddenly the phrase ‘Hell or High Water’ started to appear on social media sites and became as much a part of the Calgary Stampede Brand as the White Hat. It represented a cry to rebuild not only Stampede Park but the entire community. The Stampede embraced it and tens of thousands of shirts have now been sold and hundreds of thousands of dollars raised for the Red Cross as a result. There were also thousands of individual efforts to raise money for flood relief. An example is the featured image which is a poster created by Calgarian,  Keli Pollock with all profits going directly to charities to help flood victims.

Today, the Calgary Stampede Parade kicked off the 10 day extravaganza and water-weary Calgarians are taking the time to celebrate what is nothing short of amazing.

bigstock--Brand-2559385The origin of the word BRAND goes back to the times when  ranchers burned the animals skin by using a distinctive symbol in order to differentiate one person’s cattle from another’s.

It seems fitting that as Calgary celebrates the Stampede, that the modern day BRAND associations are also in the forefront. Those are the thoughts, feelings, perceptions, images, experiences, beliefs and attitudes that have become linked to the city. Calgary is a community of optimism, caring, power and resiliency.

I have never been more proud to be a Calgarian.

© Helene Oseen 2013
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